PRRD leads 124th Independence Day rites at Rizal Park

INDEPENDENCE DAY. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leads the wreath-laying ceremony as part of the country’s 124th Independence Day commemoration at the Rizal Park, Manila on Sunday (June 12, 2022). It was his last time to celebrate the occasion as his six-year term as the country’s chief executive ends on June 30. (Screengrab from RTVM/PCOO)

Outgoing President Rodrigo R. Duterte led the 124th Independence Day rites at Rizal Park in Manila on Sunday, his last time to celebrate the occasion as chief executive and the first time to attend the commemoration at the Rizal Park. He will step down from office on June 30.

During the event, Duterte took part in the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies along with other Cabinet officials. He also witnessed the high-speed pass of FA-50PH jet fighters, which were used in air operations during the 2017 battle to liberate Marawi City from the Maute-ISIS Group terrorists.

Duterte did not deliver any speech during the event, but later his office released an official message, where he acknowledged the lessons learned from the past, but reminded Filipinos to give as much importance to the present.

“The shared narrative that we have weaved throughout history has never ceased in teaching us what values to hold and which lessons to remember. While we draw strength from learning our past, we must continue believing that there is still wisdom to be gained from our present choices, decisions and actions so we can shape a better future for our people,” he said.

Duterte also stressed that in nation-building, liberties are there to make people “wiser and not to prove that we are always right or better,” and even in exercising our most cherished freedoms, our differences can move us to engage in healthy yet meaningful discourse without sowing hatred and division, as well as push our country towards the right direction.”

The outgoing President reiterated his call for Filipinos to join hands and work together for the benefit of the country and people. “In the spirit of patriotism and love of the motherland exemplified by those who came before us, let us come together in unity for the glory and triumph of the Filipino nation,” he said.

After the flag raising and wreath-laying rites, Duterte stayed and talked to  members of diplomatic corps for at least 45 minutes. He then approached and greeted the audience and other event participants, including members of the Boy Scout of the Philippines.

In 2017, Duterte was supposed to commemorate his first Independence Day as president at Rizal Park but later decided to skip it because he was “not feeling well. “

He celebrated the 120th and 121st Independence Days at the historic balcony of Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite in 2018. This year’s celebration is bannered by the theme “Kalayaan 2022: Pagsuong sa Hamon ng Panibagong Bukas” (Rise Towards the Challenge of a New Beginning).

Various government officials lead the flag raising and wreath-laying rites simultaneously conducted in different historical landmarks throughout the country. The country’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, proclaimed the Philippines’ independence from Spanish colonial rule in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

From 1946 to 1961, the Philippines celebrated Independence Day on July 4, the same as the US Independence Cay. President Diosdado Macapagal, however,  moved the date to June 12 by virtue Proclamation No. 28, series of 1962. Congress passed Republic Act 4166 in 1964 formally designating June 12 every year as Philippine independence Day.